Monthly Archives: April 2011

The Early Runner Gets the Worm

Smiles at the finish line!

Jayne Haske and her son Joe, winners of the Hot (Sweaty) Mama Get in Gear race entry giveaway, didn’t let a little rain stop them from participating in Minnesota’s “Annual Rite of Spring” on Saturday, April 30. It was Joe’s first time participating in a race, something he’s been watching his parents do for years.

“Getting him out of bed wasn’t easy, but seeing Joe cross the finish line was great,” says Jayne. “I love that he got to participate and feel that sense of accomplishment for himself. With so many other families out there, he gets to see that being fit is a normal part of family life. That’s priceless.”

The only difficulty the mom-son duo encountered was a road filled with worms in peril; April showers had them surfacing in mass. While he admits it was fun showing off his medal, Joe was a literal lifesaver on the run, moving as many worms off of the road as he could. “It felt good to help so many worms,” he said.

Joe said he’d like to run the race again. “Next time my little sister will come, too,” but it’s unclear whether or not she’ll be recruited for worm duty. Mom says she plans to be back in 2012.

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The Recipe for Postpartum Pelvic Floor and Core Strength

As featured in Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom, the Sahrmann Exercises are a progressive sequence of exercises that knit the diastasis recti (the gully created between your ab muscles during pregnancy) back together. In the May issue of Experience Life magazine co-author Kara talks about getting back to exercise after baby and in the video demonstrates the Sahrmann Exercises and important pelvic floor strengthening tips. You don’t have to have a newborn to benefit from these exercises. Heck, you don’t even have to have been pregnant to benefit. It’s just another great way to strengthen your core, and a little insurance against sneeze pee.

Bonus! If you click through to the Experience Life page to watch the video you can enter to win a free DVD, “Down There for Women,” from Katy Bowman at the Restorative Exercise Institute.

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Act Like Others Are Watching–Because They Are

It’s the last secret we mention in our book, but perhaps the most important of them all: Act Like Others Are Watching–Because They Are. We’re talking about mentoring here, both having a mentor and being a mentor. It’s about having another woman to look up to, one who seems to manage the messiness of life while still getting her gym clothes sweaty on a regular basis. It’s also about being that woman that others look to for inspiration.

But obviously the most important role you have as a mentor is providing a healthy and encouraging example for your children. Being a fit mom lets you demonstrate (actions speak louder than words) that fitness is a priority in your life. Dr. Todd Smith, a family practice physician in Cottage Grove, Minn., encourages parents to get out and get active with their children. “Kids see what their parents do and don’t do, so it’s important that parents take time to show their children the importance of physical activity.” Smith adds that genetics alone do not determine a child’s health; parent modeling and overall activity level are equally, if not more, important.

Getting a little territorial? Maybe you like to think of your workouts as your much-coveted “me time,” a chance to escape. Don’t worry, we’re not asking you to give up that solo time altogether. Keep your solo sweat, but consider adding in activities that let the whole family in on the fun. There are lots of fun ways to workout with your kids. Schedule time as a family to participate in fitness and outdoor pursuits, perhaps on a weekly basis. By spending family time together in an active setting, you are showing children the importance of family togetherness as well as health and fitness.

Here are a few tactics to add to your fit family repertoire:

Cady setting out on her first race with Dad.

1. Let the kids help develop a list of potential activities. Creating a list for each season means you’re never left incapacitated by inclimate weather. Plan outdoor activities whenever possible and get the kids out of the house (and away from the television and computer).

2. Focus on time, not intensity. Remind your kids that, just like family life, fitness is about endurance. Enjoy the time and don’t worry about the caloric burn.

3. Invest in gear. Frisbees, bats and balls, even a water sprinkler can get the family moving. Just make sure there are lots of options. Investing in the (practical) essentials is worth your dollar, too. While positioned in a jogging stroller or bike trailer, kids get a similar adrenaline rush as you! The final blocks back to your home are the perfect place to let little legs work off energy.

5. Be creative. Simple tasks like washing the car, raking the yard, gardening, and snow shoveling can be fun family activities. Be creative with your time, too. If your children are taking swim lessons, think about jumping in an open lane yourself. Consider running around the soccer fields while your kids are at practice, or just some sit ups and push ups from the sidelines (who cares if those other parents are looking… bet they want to join you!).

6. Look for local road races that offer opportunities for kids to compete too. The Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon even has a diaper dash for the aspiring walker! When you run a race on your own, make arrangements so your kids can watch you cross the finish line (or cross the finish line with you). It’s important that they  see you accomplish your goals and experience the rewards of hard work.

7. Visit your local park, recreation center, or nature center. Just bringing your children to the playground on a regular basis encourages them to use their large motor skills and burn off some energy. Look for nature paths, or paved park trails so kids can walk, run, or rollerblade with you in sight.

8. Let your children investigate sports alternatives in organized league play. Most recreation centers offer community leagues for soccer, basketball, and more. Call your local center to get a seasonal list of athletic offerings. If possible, volunteer to coach to show them just how fun and important fitness is.

9. Encourage older kids to join you on runs, bike rides, or trips to the gym. Invite them to ride their bikes along with you as you run on local trails. Let them run with you at the track where they can go their own pace.

10. Emphasize fun! In order to build long-lasting behaviors, make sure kids are enjoying their physical activity. It is, after all, about building life-long habits and behaviors for the entire family.

The smile says it all...

Wanna see a smile like that on your kid’s face? If you live in the Twin Cities area and are interested in running the Get in Gear races next week (Saturday, April 30), we’d like to help you get out there with your kiddo. We’ve got a kid’s 2K entry to give away as well as an adult entry to any event (2K with your child, 5K, 10K or half marathon). Comment below and tell us why you’d like to participate…  We’ll select a winner this Friday!

–Laurie

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Breaking News: Parents Have Hard Time Exercising

Could that be true? Why on earth would someone with kids have a harder time exercising than their childless peers?

You do detect the sarcasm in my voice, don’t you?

But the front page of the April 11 Minneapolis Star Tribune states what most parents believe is the obvious in the article: “Eat right? Exercise? New parents lag behind peers.”

I couldn’t help but think, “We need a study for that?” But don’t roll your eyes. I think there is long-term value that will come from this study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics. Aside from a few interesting factoids (like women self-report their weight more accurately than men), I think the researchers are on to the same line of thinking that Laurie and I were when we wrote “Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom.”

Ultimately, what Laurie and I believe is the bigger picture when it comes to incorporating fitness into an already jam-packed schedule is not necessarily getting back to your pre-baby weight, which is the focus of  most other fitness books for new moms. I’m not dismissing the notion that we all want to look good in our favorite jeans or, for those who so desire (and I don’t, to spare you my twin skin), wear a bikini again. Of course we want to look good. And of course we’ve bought into the notion that exercising will help us stay around to enjoy our kids longer (and apparently we are not happy as parents until we get older, so we damn well ought to be healthy when we get there). Still, it’s something more, something that moves exercise out of the “me time” category and into the “parenting” category, because when we find a way to workout, with or without our children, we become a role model for them. The bigger picture then can get even bigger when the kids have a chance to escape this scourge of childhood obesity and grow up to be fit too, and then pass it on to their kids and start reversing the trend of chronic illnesses caused by excessive weight. Imagine how that might effect out-of-control healthcare costs. It sounds as if I think physical exercise can change the world. I suppose I do. But now we have a study that backs this up:

Understanding parents’ health behaviors during this new phase of life is important because positive, as well as negative, health habits may become ingrained and perpetuated into later adulthood, and may be transmitted to children. 

The thing about having kids who are raised in a home where fitness is a family value is that they never have to “start” an exercise program. Let’s face it, getting started is the hardest part, right? I consider that a gift for my children: growing up with exercise being an integral part of the way they live. And if they choose later in life to be couch potatoes I promise to bite my tongue. I hope, even at that ripe old age, I’ll be able to take out my aggression on a long sweaty run, a fierce kick boxing class or out on the tennis courts. Ideally I’ll be able to do all three and still have the energy to play with and pass the legacy of fitness on to my grandchildren.

Kara

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Mother Words about Hot (Sweaty) Mamas

Kate Hopper, of the Mother Words blog, wrote one of the loveliest pieces on motherhood and running we’ve ever read (I dare you not to tear up at the line: “Motherhood made me a runner and running made me a better mother.”) We were lucky enough to be part of this moving post when she transitioned into a review of “Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom.”

If you happen to be in the Twin Cities area on Saturday, April 9, Laurie and I will be at The Herb Box restaurant inside the Eden Prairie Life Time Athletic from 4-7 pm. Join us for a mango lemonade, some yummy appetizers and, of course, books!

Have a good weekend. Hope you find time to get out there and move!

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Today’s “Bo”-tivation

It was a difficult transition from PJs to running shorts today. But once I mentioned the idea to Bowden, my dog, I had no problems getting out the door. He’s like another kid, that way. Always seeing things as an adventure and an opportunity. Thanks, Mr. Bowden. Now I get to enjoy our success for the rest of day. I’m sure the kids would thank you, too.

Got a success story of your own for today? Let’s hear it!

–Laurie

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That’s right, you don’t wear panties under your bike shorts!

We had a great time teaching a mama spin class in Schaumburg, IL yesterday. Definitely a highlight of our first weekend on tour with our new baby, Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom. For a number of moms it was their first time in the cycling studio, feeling less intimidated in a room full of other mamas.  We hoped to encourage moms to try something new and we’re certain you’ll find an inviting atmosphere at your gym, too. Arrive early, take a friend, meet your instructor. Know that it’s just as much your class as it is anyone else’s.

In lieu of a few concerns our moms expressed during class, I posted three tips on Facebook for avoiding crotch pain while on the bike:

  • no panties under the bike shorts
  • fine tune your seat adjustment
  • give “it” a little time to get used to the saddle

Got a few replies from moms who wanted a little more info on the topic so, at the risk of offering TMI, here goes…

No panties under the bike shorts. That’s right, bike shorts are designed with a built-in chamois and are meant to be worn sans undies. Might sound crazy at first, but the last thing any woman needs is extra fabric bunching and burrowing in an already sensitive area. If you’re worried about feeling a little tender “down there,” look for shorts with extra padding and an anti-bacterial chamois. You’ll pay a little more for the bells and whistles, but odds are you’ll notice the difference.

Fine tune your seat adjustment. Indoors and out, it’s important to get your bike fit right; makes riding more comfortable and helps prevent injury, too. On indoor bikes, setup is quick and simple; never worry about asking your group fitness instructor to help you set up your bike or check the settings you’ve dialed in. Here’s a quick rundown:

A regular at group cycle. This mama's got it dialed in!

1. Make sure you have a slight bend in the knee when your foot is at the bottom of the pedal stroke. You should not have to rock your hips in order to get your foot through the bottom of the pedal stroke.

2. Once you have your seat height right, check to see if you need to adjust the seat forward or back. To do this, position your feet in the pedals so they are at 9 and 3 o’clock. In this position, the bottom of the knee cap over your forward foot should be directly over the center of the pedal beneath it. Adjust your seat forward and back until you get it positioned right, remembering to make sure you still have a slight bend in the knee when pedaling after you’re done.

3. Handlebars are really positioned for comfort. If you’re new to cycling try starting with a higher setup to avoid back pain. Aerodynamics are not important on an indoor ride, unless you’re trying to get used to the position for other outdoor pursuits.

Give “it” a little time to get used to the saddle. I went through three saddles in less than a month when I first started riding long distances. I was in search of that perfect seat that would cradle me “down there” and make cycling more enjoyable. I eventually ended up with a great seat, but truth is I probably would have been fine with the other seats if I’d given them a little more time. Yep, cycling puts pressure on a woman in new and uncomfortable way, but like most things in life, time heals. Make your way through four or five classes and you should notice it gets easier. Until then, move to a standing position when you need a break.

So there it is. Not too gory, huh? But really, is anything too gory for a mom? You’ve dealt with worse, I’m sure. So hop on that bike and enjoy a fun ride with new and old friends around you. Hopefully we’ll have another mama spin class coming soon…  (We’ll keep you posted!)

If you have any other questions, post ’em below. We’ll make sure to get back to you as quickly as we can! Ride on!

Laurie

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